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My, how things have changed. When I think about the somewhat sleepy Charleston I arrived in some 13 years ago, I realize how much the region has grown and evolved. I remember going downtown in the summer of 2000 when finding a parking place was a breeze, King Street’s sidewalks weren’t crowded with shoppers, and the intersection at John Street was considered high up on Upper King. Likewise, Sullivan’s Island, where I first lived, was quiet and quaint, and my commute through Mount Pleasant revealed a random hodgepodge of businesses and traffic lights still hanging from wires. I’ll never forget asking, on my first grocery shopping venture at the Sea Island Piggy Wiggly, where I could find the tofu and the sweet older clerk’s confused “to-whah?” response. Believe me, there was nothing wrong with any of it—are you kidding? I loved it and have always considered myself fortunate to have come here ahead of the curve—but time passes, things change, and hopefully, we progress.
In the interest of being ahead of the curve, we’ve been wondering what Charleston will be like in the next quarter-century. So we tasked longtime contributing editor Stephanie Hunt with really digging in—researching not only population growth and what that populace will be like in 25 years, but who and what are the drivers of growth and progress for the region. In the feature “Fast Forward”, Stephanie, with the help of assistant Dustin Waters, offers up the stats on jobs, aging, health, and diversity; names six “game changers” who are working now to create a promising future in the realms of environment, education, community development, and health; lists intriguing innovations and ground-breaking research that will impact the future of the Lowcountry and beyond; and asks the experts—futurists, consultants, and local leaders—to weigh in on the challenges ahead. From where I stand, the future is looking bright, and I’m so glad to be here to witness it.
Photograph by Ruta Elvikyte